Thursday, 1 December 2016

Sir Olaniwun Ajayi, Awolowo’s Trusted Lieutenant Goes Home Today

Pa Olaniwun Ajayi with children and grandchildren
Pa Olaniwun Ajayi with children and grandchildren
THE name, Sir Olaniwun Ajayi, is a household name. Mention the name anywhere in Nigeria, it rings a bell. But, like the popular axiom, the rich also cry. Before the name became a household one, the bearer had a lot of tales to tell.
Indeed, the beginning was not only rough but also very arduous and challenging. Hope was almost dashed while cherished property was sold with a view to securing the future.
Prior to the demise of Pa Ajayi, who was the founder of top Nigerian law firm and a chieftain of the Pan Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, who died penultimate Friday, his reputation has soared.
The elder statesman was born in Isara Remo on April 8, 1925 to Mr Benjamin Awoyemi Ajayi who was a farmer and Marian Efundolamu Ajayi who traded in farm produce to sustain the family.
History has it that the upbringing of Sir Ajayi was not rosy as he lived with his uncle in Epe, Lagos state where he first enrolled at the Islamic Primary School, Epe and schooled for three months.
Unfortunately, his uncle was unable to pay the tuition which was three pence. He had to quit school and when his father heard of the development, he came to Epe and took him away to Isara to continue his primary education.
He was later enrolled into a primary school in 1937 and completed his primary education in Ode-Remo after-which authorities of the school engaged him to teach there due to his intelligence and excellent result.
In a bid to further his education, Sir Ajayi resumed by teaching the Class Two pupils (Nursery 1/2) for a year and he was paid 10 shillings, six pence per month.
It was also learnt that, Sir Ajayi put aside two shillings, six pence and later increased it to five shillings so that at the end of the year he could have at least £6 saved for himself.
Desperately thirsty for higher education, Sir Ajayi applied to Wesley College, Ibadan, Oyo State, for a four year teacher’s course.Owing to the fact that there were no means of funding his 4-year course, he reportedly approached the manager of the schools in Remo and Ijebu district, to request for a written consent to the principal of the school to defer payment of his school fees till the following year.
And having done that, Sir Ajayi had to look for money to buy a few other things to take to school.
And he passed through hardship paying for the remaining two years at the college as there was no source of funding.
img_3462After leaving Wesley college, Sir Olaniwun became a supervisor of schools for the entire Remo and Ijebu province. He later travelled to the United Kingdom to study Law , attended the London School of Economics and Political Science and also studied to become a chartered secretary.
On returning to Nigeria, Sir Olaniwun Ajayi worked with the UAC where he rose to the position of the assistant group legal adviser with Chief Ernest Shonekan as his junior in the legal department of UAC.
He worked with the UAC for six years until his resignation.
Almost a year after his resignation from UAC, Sir Olaniwun was appointed by the then Governor of the Western State, Brig. Gen. Christopher Rotimi as commissioner for education until after two years he was appointed commissioner for health. After about three years when of public service as commisioner for health, Sir Ajayi went into private practice as a lawyer.
He has authored five books “House of Oduduwa Must Not Fall”, “Adunola: In Retrospect”, “Nigeria: Africa’s Failed Asset”, his autobiography, and Isara Afotamodi: My Jerusalem.
Sir Ajayi married late Mrs Adunola Ajayi, who died on the 6th of December 2007. Their union is blessed with two medical doctors; Ola Ajayi, and the first child, Mrs. Dara Odubogun while the third and fourth children; Prof. Konyinsola Ajayi, SAN, who was recently ordained as a minister, and Mrs. Olayimika Philips are lawyers.

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